Monday, April 30, 2018

Bad Blurbs in the Real World, Part 6

A book description or back cover blurb is the third-best promotion you have.  (The first is name recognition, the second the cover.)  The first two may get a reader to glance at your offering, but a good or bad blurb can make or break the sale.  

I receive a number of ebook promotion emails like BookBuzz and Fussy Librarian, and some of the book blurbs have been so bad that I’ve started collecting them.  
Here are a few with the author and book title removed to protect the incompetent.  My comments in italics are beneath each one.

NOTE:  To see how to write a good blurb, please read my article on the subject or do a search of my blog with the term “blurb” for links in my “Links of Interest” articles.  To learn how to figure out your genre, clink on this.  


It’s 1931 and men are desperate for jobs. A lucky few will get to work in the searing heat of the Nevada desert on the massive Hoover Dam, the single largest public works project in history. Their goal is to tame the mighty Colorado River with a dam that towers sixty stories high from the base of the canyon to the crest of the dam. In doing so they will create the largest man-made lake in the world. Nothing like it has ever been built.

Backstory and background do not a blurb make unless this is nonfiction.  Who are the main characters?  What are their goals? How is this an action/adventure story?


I've got two choices. Join the Undercover Protectorate. Or die.

This is a log line rather than a blurb, but it’s a very bad log line because it has an obvious answer with no payoff on what the book is about.  So I have two choice, read the book or not.  I would choose not since I have no clue what the book is about, and the author knows nothing about creating suspense so the book will probably be a dud.


Barnabas Tew is a detective in Victorian London, although he is not nearly as successful as he dreamed he'd be. In fact, there are times that he fears that he may not be very good at the detecting business, after all. Everything changes, however, during a visit to the museum, where an encounter with a none-too-friendly mummy whisks Barnabas away from everything he knows. It seems that the Egyptian afterlife is in turmoil and the fate of the entire world is at stake, and Barnabas has been sent for by Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the dead, to save the day. Barnabas is in over his head but determined to prove himself once and for all. With only his trusty assistant Wilfred at his side, will Barnabas manage to solve the case and save the Egyptian afterlife? Or will the dangerous and unpredictable Egyptian gods get the best of the intrepid duo?

Wordy with too much information about unimportant things.  And, once again, questions are asked that have obvious answers which suck whatever suspense may have been created.  The book is listed as young adult yet the character talked about is an adult with the boy barely mentioned.  


The police were beside themselves this weekend. What with missing teens and a drug cartel on the loose, they had their work cut out for them. And with the phones not entirely reliable due to the weather, they weren’t able to warn anyone of the dangerous Russian thugs running along the coast. Maybe if they had, our lovely historical society president might not have been so happy to help the mysterious Russian who showed up on her dock in the middle of the storm. That would have been a pity, since it turns out they knew each other from way back when. They’ve sworn to never love again, but then again—Never Say Never.

“Beside themselves” is an old-fashioned phrase used about oneself, and, these days, it would be said by an elderly society woman who is beside herself because her rival wore the same dress to church.  No cop would ever be beside himself or herself about anything.  The sentences seem to be from two different sources so the language and even tenses vary.  Neither really fits a romantic suspense description.


Loyalty Kane is a boy with a heavy secret to bear. His life has never been a happy one, but the bags beneath his eyes, and his stooped shoulders, are signs of a burden greater than unhappiness. The solace he finds in school will soon be gone, as summer rushes toward him. Loyal fears and loathes the hot summer months that most children love.

This description is so vague about what Loyalty faces that it could be anything from being the victim of a pedophile to a bully to a demon.  Surprise is nice in a book, but you want your description to target the right audience.  This one does not.  


Harley is a rebel soul, lashing out at his family because all they care about is their social standing. They are destroying him piece by piece. He is a biker on a downward spiral with his world falling apart.

Together with his man servant, Garrett, he sets out to discover himself and look for the angel in his visions. This is his story about failure, redemption and his search for Mari.

“Together with his man servant, Garrett” totally ruins the rebel against wealth and family vibe the author is trying to present.  “They are destroying him piece by piece” also makes him a victim, not a hero.  Most of the sentences are weak writing, as well.  


A good story has to bring out all our senses. A good story has the feeling of a true story is being told. A good story will cause the reader to think.

This is one of the worst blurbs I’ve ever seen.  It tells nothing about the subject, the genre, or the characters.  I doubt this writer has a clue what a blurb actually is.


Scorned by her family. Banished by her kind. Hunted by zealots. Where does an exiled Fairy Queen hide? A remote mountain cabin, the seedy underbelly of a metropolis, or an uninhabited island. All would be good choices, but after hundreds of years on the run, the daughter of Oberon, King of the Wild Fairies, signs a binding contract with the zealots that hunt her. In exchange, they allow her to settle down in the last place anyone would look for fairy royalty…

Blurbs are short.  Don’t waste space telling what the book isn’t because you won’t have space to tell what the book is.  The blurb gives no real clue about the type of book this is.  Will the Fairy Queen find love, solve a murder, start a revolution?  Who knows?


Some say this book has a harry potter feeling, but it's a completely novel story and unique magic world. The world is beautiful because it's full with magic elements of seven types, each in a designated color - just like the rainbow code! That said, those colors could only be seen by some special eyes, such as Soarame's! 

Many animals in this world possess magic power, so they were called "magimals". A well-known example is dragons, and we all know how strong they are. However, they are still not the most powerful kind of magimals, because each type of magic has a king kind - and never underestimate a magimal just because it looks cute and little!

What isn’t wrong with this blurb.  Poor grammar.  A ridiculous comparison.  (Hint: Never compare your book to the Harry Potter series because almost everyone will sneer.)  Worldbuilding description with no characters, goals, or plot tells nothing important about the book.  The language is also wrong for fiction.


Daniel’s temporarily stepped into the shoes of his murdered cousin, former Sheriff Mac Allen. Before it’s over, of course, he’s going to need her services—both investigative and psychic. He’s hell-bent to catch Mac’s murderer with the unwittingly amusing help of irascible Fletcher Enloe. (Author’s name) ratchets up the supernatural factor when super-psychic MaMa Allen tells Promise a spirit haunting Fire Mountain is leaving the mountain to prowl among the living.

Whose service is Daniel going to need?  From details I picked up on the book series’ Amazon page, it is Promise who is listed at the bottom of the blurb.  Who exactly is Daniel?  Don’t assume that the reader knows as much about your book or series as you do.  

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